As I type this, I’m dizzy with thought. Whirling through my mind are many questions, and few answers. “Have I not been this selfish? When have I done this to others? Why can’t I recall my own debased patheticism?” I wonder if the human psyche manages to cloud our worst behavior in an effort to remain among the sane. For if we were truly cognizant of all the destruction we fostered, we’d find it easy to help ourselves shuffle off this wet rock. I’m livid if you can’t tell.
Few things work me into an indignant and enraged fury more thoroughly than witnessing gratuitous harm come to my children. We, as adults, manage to accord one another the worst human beings have to offer the living. We covet. We cheat. We steal. We also lie like rugs. When adults convey these hideous acts to and upon the other, there’s a sense of discontent that transfers simultaneously. That discontent transmogrifies into injury and punishment when an adult lies to a child. Readily, the lie will ferry abuse, or soon be unearthed as such.
What I’m trying to say is, when you deliberately mislead a child on something of monumental importance to them, all while knowing how meaningful and essential that something is to the youngling, you strip them of the indispensable concept of trust.
You. Ruin. Them.
Literally, you ruin them for all future interactions. You may ponder this and see it as small, or even an opportunity to learn healthy growth patterns, but the truth is, they trusted you to be honest and earnest with them. When you aren’t, you seize from them something not yours to ensnare or acquire. …And while you do, God is watching.
Even when kids are small they are lie detectors. They know, whether they can formulate it for you or not, when your inconsistency is present. That’s not quite what I’m talking about. I’m referring to kids that are older and self-aware. Not quite old enough to really deal with catastrophic heartache well like teenagers, but not so little as they can be bought off with an Oreo and glass of milk. Those formative years hold a dichotomy for me. Of the many I can remember, those were the best of times and the worst of times for me personally. 10 years would be a target age for this line of thought.
I suspect it is as such for all children on some level. I know when I look at my sweet daughter I can barely keep from showing up on the doorstep of the person who has mastered the art of juvenile annihilation, and proven so by gutting my daughter like the proverbial fish, as I scream, “I am Wrath.” Much to the contrary and with a known sense of helplessness, I can’t take her anguish away. I’m not even sure I can stop it from recurring. I certainly can’t jump in the truck, zip over there, and use verbal Judo to attain some semblance of justice.
So, I’m left with two things. Teaching her forgiveness, and showing her forgiveness is to be understood, and applied.
And no, there are no other lessons. Not in the immediate. And here’s why… She’s of an age where she was just trampled by a selfish and arrogant person – a selfish and arrogant person she admires and loves. So the concept of trust has taken a serious beating to say the least. Can you inhabit a world void of trust? I certainly can’t.
I must explain, in as few words possible, the concept of forgiveness, the necessity enveloping clemency, offer a biblical story for context, and then show her the kind of Grace God expects and Jesus instructs. She receives zero purpose in any lesson, especially after being thrown under the bus, where I don’t walk the walk and only talk the talk.
This precariousness forces me to forgive in kind. My little girl has just been devastated and if I don’t sincerely forgive and double down on this basic precept, I’ll become a catalyst for greater trauma. “Parenting is easy,” said no person, ever. She’s as dull as a razor. She’ll eventually ascertain if I’m the most recent adult who lied to her today. Whether she figures it out immediately, or on down the line, the lie will catch up to us both. …And I cannot do that to her. I have to suck it up, pray, meditate, and follow through – for both our sake.
I will forgive. I’ve been given no small number of examples. Esau forgave Jacob, right? What about Jacob’s own Joseph? Joseph forgave his brothers from selling him into slavery and eventually fed and sheltered his brothers and their families. God commands people not seek retribution over Cain killing Abel. People have forgiven one another. God has shown forgiveness. …And those are just a few stories in Genesis alone.
I am duty bound to offer forgiveness – to seek it, to live it, to breathe it, and to show examples of it to my daughter. Having a good story won’t cut the mustard. My faith will require works. Anything less won’t do by God, and won’t be healthy for my daughter.
Wish me luck. I’m off to do something I never dreamed about when erecting the mental skyscraper labeled ‘parenting’ within my fantasies all those years ago. A prayer for my girl and maybe even me would be welcome. …And I wouldn’t be much of a Christian if I didn’t ask a solemn and heartfelt prayer for the catalyst in all this. I sincerely hope this persons finds Him. Truly.